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Don't Hate Will.i.am: He's STEM's Biggest Champ

Hate 'My Humps' all you want, but Will.i.am's work promoting science and tech to kids is laudable.


Still cursing Will.i.am for penning "My Humps"? You're probably not alone. Tuesday night critics on Twitter threw major shade at CNN for picking Will.i.am as one of their Democratic National Convention pundits. ESPN writer David Hale tweeted, "MSNBC: great speeches! FOX: bad speeches! CNN: 'We're here with pop star Will I Am for his thoughts...' *sigh*."

Well, folks can hate all they want but in his post-DNC commentary on Tuesday night, the Black Eyed Peas frontman used his time in the spotlight to talk about why science, technology, engineering, and math is so critical to our nation's future.


The next thing you know, STEM was one of Twitter's top trending topics in the United States. Yes, a social media platform that's inclined to #BieberForever or #BestVideoGameEver trending topics started talking about STEM—all because of Will.i.am.

Will.i.am's STEM obsession isn't a new thing. He connected last year with Segway inventor and FIRST robotics competition founder Dean Kamen and got inspired to make STEM "geeks and nerds" the "coolest people on the planet". Still, skeptics see Will.i.am's partnering with NASA to beam his latest song "Reach for the Stars," from the Mars Rover Curiosity back to earth—or being on CNN—as typical celeb attention seeking.

While it's easy to be cynical and figure Will.i.am's manager is just really savvy at getting his client chosen for historical moments, what's refreshing is that Will.i.am is clearly getting people to pay attention to the issue—STEM—that he cares about. Sure, the Mars Rover Curiosity is cool, but weeks after it landed on the red planet—and news cycles being what they are—would the media have paid attention to it last week if not for Will.i.am beaming a song from it? Dig a little deeper and you'll find out that the event was the launch of his foundation's initiative with Discovery Education to bring more STEAM—STEM plus art—to schools.

After the Twitter backlash Will.i.am tweeted that "peoples ignorance and lack of focus can be discouraging when you do community work...but that aint ganna stop me...#reachforthestars." He then went on to point out, "If there are no jobs in america today...2022 will be worse because the average 15year old is getting no #stem edu. & the future is tech."

This morning it was clear Will.i.am isn't letting the haters stop him. He paid a visit to the CBS This Morning show to talk politics, robotics, and plans to get a STEM school up and running in Boyle Heights, the low income Los Angeles community where he grew up.

"This year, I'm executing the concept of 'Yes We Can,' going back to the ghetto that I come from and putting a STEM school in my neighborhood to get these kids prepared for 2022," he said. "I can use my efforts and my reach and my life to change the community that I come from in hopes to mold a Mark Zuckerberg from Boyle Heights."

Go ahead, keep on hating "My Humps", but we have to give credit where it's due. Will.i.am isn't just talk. He's genuinely putting his belief in STEM into action. We wish more celebrities would do the same.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Articles

Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

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"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.





Culture
via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

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Politics

The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

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Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

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The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

A reporter from Politics Joe hit the streets of London and asked everyday people what they think Americans pay for healthcare and they were completely shocked.

Health